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Day: June 11, 2012

“The Undead” by Dick Teresi

The Undead by Dick Teresi

“The Undead” by Dick Teresi

c.2012, Pantheon Books
$26.95 / $31.00 Canada
354 pages, includes index



You couldn’t click fast enough.

The online push was for organ donors and it seemed like a good idea. Your decision now to make an act of generosity later could save or enhance someone else’s life. Besides… you’d be dead so you really wouldn’t care, right?

Right. But read “The Undead” by Dick Teresi, and you may have some things to add to your click.

What defines a time of death?

Are you dead when you stop breathing, or when your heart quits beating?  Is brain-death the absolute end, or is it when there’s no “you” in you?  What determines death?

Every culture through millennia has asked those questions, but the truth is that there’s no answer yet. We think we know when death arrives – but we could be wrong.

For years, Dick Teresi has poked holes in tenets about death. He says he’s made people “uneasy, even angry.”  They defended their “traditional ideas of life and death” but he claims to be “merely a journalist reporting the facts…”

One of those facts, he says “cheerfully,” is that we’re all going to die. Religious beliefs and NDEs offer comfort but “something will kill us eventually.” So how do we know when we go?

Since 1968, when a committee gathered at the Harvard Medical School to “hammer out a set of simple criteria” allowing doctors to determine time of death, it seems as though the focus has been on a “permanently nonfunctioning brain” and not the heart when figuring a finish.

But, asks Teresi, is “brain death” really The End?

Teresi cites studies in which brain dead patients had EEGs. People who are “brain dead” grow, give birth, often breathe on their own, and sometimes only “look sick.”  Most sobering, “dead” organ donors have been observed to have spikes in blood pressure during organ harvesting – and, unlike normal surgeries, anesthesiologists weren’t allowed to administer analgesic.

Horrifying, no doubt. So what can you do to protect yourself?

Read this book, first of all, and learn. Then, have a talk with your doctor about a medical directive. That’s the first place to start before you reach your last place.

In many paragraphs, in many ways, author Dick Teresi acknowledges that his words are going to stir up a storm of controversy. He claims that he’s already lost friends because of his research. He says he’s angered doctors and scientists with the necessary questions he asks in “The Undead,” but he asked anyhow.

Still, there’s nothing maudlin, overly-morbid, or morose here; in fact, this book about death is delightfully lively. Teresi has a biting sense of humor with a dose of the absurd, tempered by willingness to see beauty in sacrifice. Readers who can peer past his troubling main subject will be rewarded by a thoughtful, meaningful look at how we live before we don’t.

Though it’s a definite argument-starter, “The Undead” will make you think about things you never thought you’d consider.  If you’re up for something that’s six-feet deep, this book will surely click with you.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Volcanoes return June 15

The Volcanoes’ Daniel Burkhart pops a fly ball during a game in the 2011 season. The Volcanoes open the season with a game against the College All-Stars June 15. (File)

For the Keizertimes

Tom Trebelhorn, manager of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, has his eye on the draft for this season.

Last year’s Volcanoes finished in the cellar of the Northwest League West, although they had a better win-loss record than the East division’s Yakima Bears. Starting pitching was the big problem, but Trebelhorn expects three veterans to return and help with their experience.

The three are Lorenzo Mendoza, Kendry Flores and Joan – yes, that’s how he spells it – Rodriguez. Trebelhorn sees potential in Lorenzo Montero and Mario Rodriguez, but he notes that the assignments are up to the headquarters of the parent club, the San Francisco Giants.

“We’ll wait and see what happens,” he said.

Raymundo Montero is expected to be a relief pitcher. Trebelhorn, again referring to headquarters, declined to name other possibilities.

Catching is also uncertain, largely because of injuries to prospects.

Looking at the infield, Trebelhorn sees Stephen Yarrow as a good prospect for third base, Cristian Paulino for second and Jonathan Jones for first. Shortstop is “up in the air,” with no one seeming comparable to Joe Panik, last year’s Most Valuable Player and now playing for the advanced class A San Jose Giants.

In the outfield, Chuckie Jones is expected to return and play center. Mike Mergenthaler is likely to start in left and Raffy Rodriguez in right, with both showing power potential. Two other outfield prospects who have power are Bryan Nicholson and Leonardo Fuentes.

“We’re going to be a little bit draft-dependent,” Trebelhorn said.

A former Major League Manager of the Year, he is not worried about his staff. Ricky Ward returns as batting coach and Jerry Cram as pitching coach. New to the staff is Hector Borg, whose title is simply coach, but he will have a variety of coaching responsibilities.

Asked how the rest of the league looks, Trebelhorn said, “It’s hard to handicap these things, because the draft is so critical.”

The Volcanoes open at home June 14 with a 6:35 p.m. pre-season game, facing college all-stars. League play starts at 7:05 p.m. June 15 against the Boise Hawks.

Work starting on Keizer Rapids boat ramp


Of the Keizertimes

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. See the full correction at the bottom.

Work is underway on the boat ramp at Keizer Rapids Park.

Erosion control has started this week along with clearing and grading for an access road.

A $820,000 bid to build a boat ramp at Keizer Rapids Park was approved by the Keizer City Council. Santiam Paving is the general contractor.

Funding is already secured through grants of $700,000 from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and $50,000 from the Oregon Marine Board. The city has pledged $250,000 matching funds. The project was originally anticipated to cost just more than $1 million.

The city must build the ramp because of commitments made when Keizer Rapids Park property was acquired through grant funding, said City Attorney Shannon Johnson. In addition, the city’s permit with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expires soon.

The single-lane boat ramp is set for completion by 2013. Plans also call for a parking lot with 37 spots, including room for 22 boats and trailers, an access road and restrooms. Should the grant be approved Community Development Director Nate Brown said design drawings should be ready in spring 2012, with construction commencing that summer.

Currently the closest upstream boat ramp is at Wallace Marine Park, with downstream ramps at Wheatland Ferry and Willamette Mission State Park.

Editor’s note: This story originally misstated the number of parking spots planned for the boat ramp’s lot.